From Monday 25 July 2016 the No 20 Stagecoach South West bus service will no longer include West Buckland. Instead West Buckland will be served by a combination of Scheduled Bus Service journeys and Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) services both at peak times for travel to/from Taunton and off peak times for travel to/from Taunton and Wellington.
The DRT service otherwise known as a Slinky Bus is not a conventional bus service and as such it does not have a fixed timetable as it works on the basis of demand. It runs in a given area, in this case between Milverton, Wellington and Taunton but only calls at stops and pick up points if a booking has been made and therefore the journey times can vary depending on the number of passengers booked and the pick up points being served. The bus drops passengers in the centre of both Taunton and Wellington and in the case of West Buckland the pick up point will be the exiting bus stop by the War Memorial. When people register to use the service a number of details are taken including confirming the pick up point for the individual and it is explained to the people registering exactly how the service works. When they actually book a journey a check is made to ensure there is space and they are given an approximate pick up time which can vary slightly depending on the number of passengers and the number of pick ups needed to be made on the day.
Somerset County Council has laid on a morning and evening service between Taunton and West Buckland to mirror as closely as possible what happens now with service 20 as they were advised by Stagecoach South West, the current bus operator that there are passengers to and from West Buckland on all current journeys although numbers are low and use varies from day to day. In addition to this SCC are also looking to ensure access to work/education in Taunton but if there is very little or no use of these journeys then they will review this provision after a short while.
With regard to detail on timings of journeys SCC has adjusted the current workings of Slinky Bus that operates between Milverton, Langford Budville, Wellington, Nynehead and Taunton to include West Buckland and an indication of when the bus will operate through West Buckland each day (when bookings are made) is as follows:
To Taunton: 0815 (22B bus), 0940 (Slinky), 1330 (Slinky), 1510 (Slinky)
From Taunton: 1130 (Slinky), 1400 (Slinky), 1530 (Slinky), 1740 (22B Bus)
To Wellington: 1050 (Slinky), 1150 (Slinky), 1420 (Slinky) 1550 (Slinky)
From Wellington: 0930 (Slinky), 1330 (Slinky), 1500 (Slinky)
Please bear in mind the Slinky times are approximate and passengers will be advised of times when making their bookings. Passengers can use a combination of Slinky and 22B bus service journeys if they wish and can purchase a return ticket on either service which will be accepted on the other and English National Concessionary Bus Passes are valid for free travel on all of these journeys except the 0815 22B.
The Slinky service is constantly evolving and one of the advantages of a demand responsive bus service is that it is much easier to monitor use and demand and easier to make adjustments as there is no registered timetable. Another advantage is that when people book their journeys they can provide feedback on the service which helps SCC to make adjustments although it has to be recognised that the service provides transport to a number of communities that have no alternative services and we need to take account of all the users of the service when making any changes.